Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘prisoners’

Most Notorious Prison Camp

Dear friends across the US,

In 24 hours, President Obama could finally move to close Guantanamo — the most notorious prison camp on earth.

5141_Guantanamo wheelbarrow_3_200x100

With inmates on a 100-day hunger strike and massive calls for Obama to act, our president has been pushed to respond with a major speech about the prison. If enough of us demand a plan — he could free the prisoners already cleared for release, and appoint a White House official with one mission: close Guantanamo down!

We’re at a tipping point. Sign up to demand Obama close this shameful gulag down, and share the shocking facts below so others join this urgent call:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/obama_shut_down_gitmo_us/?bMPbqab&v=25082

The facts speak for themselves:
Detainees in Guantanamo now: 166
Detainees facing active charges: 6
Detainees cleared for immediate release, but stuck in the camp: 86
Guantanamo inmates on hunger strike: 103
Hunger strikers strapped down and force fed: 30
Prisoners who have died in custody: 9
Children the US has held at Guantanamo: 21
Detainees tried in civilian court: 1
“Unreleasable” detainees who can’t be tried for lack of evidence or torture: 50
Prisoners released by the Bush administration: 500+
Prisoners released by the Obama administration: 72
Current annual cost to US taxpayers: $150 million
Days since Obama first pledged to close Gitmo: 1579
Days since first prisoners arrived at Guantanamo: 11 years, 4 months, 11 days

For years, Obama has blamed the US Congress for the failure to close Guantanamo. But since Congress granted the Defense Department waiver authority that allows prisoners who have been cleared to be transferred out, Obama himself can free these 86 men. And while he will need Congressional cooperation to close the prison completely, if he truly wants to shut it down, he can task someone at the White House right now to show it is a priority and make it happen.

Sign now to demand Obama announce a plan to close Guantanamo, and then let’s up the pressure by flooding the White House with calls in these final hours — it’s time we end this shame!

http://www.avaaz.org/en/obama_shut_down_gitmo_us/?bMPbqab&v=25082

When he first campaigned to become US president, Obama promised to close Guantanamo down. This illegal and repulsive prison has led to far too much suffering and fuelled great divisions and hate in our world. Enough is enough. Let’s get Obama to act and close this painful scar on humanity.

With hope and determination,

Dalia, Joseph, Allison, Bissan, Nick, Alice, Ricken and the whole Avaaz team

Dogs Go To Jail For Good

From SF Gate
by Carolyn Jones
31 July 2012

Inmates Rehabilitate Problem Pooches

Couch-eaters, barkers, escape artists, leash-haters and other bad dogs got a reprieve from canine jail Tuesday, thanks to a cadre of trainers who know a thing to two about bad behavior.

The dogs, who were near death row at the Peninsula Humane Society because of their misdemeanors, graduated from an eight-week intensive training program that transformed them into the world’s most lovable pets.

The miracle workers behind the metamorphosis? Fellow inmates – of the two-legged variety.

A collaboration between the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office and the Peninsula Humane Society pairs problem dogs with prisoners in the minimum-security Maple Street Complex Facility in Redwood City.

Inmates gain skills

The dogs move into the jail, sleep in crates at night, and spend roughly 16 hours a day with their inmate handlers. They learn how to sit, stay and not chew shoes, as well as get along with people and other dogs.

In short, they are rehabilitated into contributing members of society.

As for the inmates, they learn a few new tricks as well. Humane Society staff instruct them how to train and groom dogs, giving them some job skills for when they’re released. And as a side benefit, the inmates get plenty of slobbering and trusting love in a place not usually known for its cheerful ambiance.

“It’s a big stress reliever. It makes you feel good,” said Mark Karwowski, 49, of Emeryville, who is serving 3 1/2 months for drunken driving. “You get to be normal for a while.”

‘Hard to say goodbye’

Karwowski bid farewell Tuesday to Belle, a 2-year-old pit bull-rottweiler mix who had “socialization issues” when she arrived at the cell block two months ago. Among other transgressions, she had a penchant for attacking other dogs.

Karwowski worked with her slowly, introducing her gradually to one, and then two, then three other dogs, rewarding her with treats when she was friendly and removing her from the dog party when she raised her hackles.

On Tuesday, Belle was a model of affability, sitting calmly throughout the graduation festivities with nary a sideways glance at her four-legged classmates.

“It feels good to see her do so well,” Karwowski said. “But it’s a little sad. It’s hard to say goodbye. It makes me miss my dog at home.”

The program originated three years ago from a sheriff’s deputy who had heard of a similar program in another state. It’s been so successful in San Mateo County that numerous other jails, including San Francisco’s, are considering it.

In all, 79 inmates have participated, training 40 dogs. All 40 have been adopted, many by their inmate handlers after they’re released or by guards, deputies and other jail staff who became smitten with the canine convicts.

Potential as pets

The dogs are mostly strays whom Humane Society staff deem to be good candidates for rehabilitation. They’re too poorly behaved to be adopted, but with some schooling and love they have the potential to become good pets.

“These are dogs that aren’t thriving in the shelter, for whatever reason,” said Maria Eguren, the Humane Society’s director of training and behavior. “But over here, it’s like they’re in a home. They do much better. Everyone’s morale goes up.”

Sheriff’s staff noticed benefits for inmates that reach far beyond dog training skills.

“A lot of the inmates have problems dealing with emotions. Working with dogs teaches them to let their emotions out in a positive way,” said Lt. Alma Zamora. “They get something to love.”

Overcoming flaws

It wasn’t hard to fall in love with Sierra, a 1-year-old Husky with pedigree looks but a few personality flaws, such as begging, whining and lack of housetraining.

Starfordshire Taimani, 27, of East Palo Alto turned her into a show dog. The fluffy pup was the star Tuesday, sitting proudly as several dozen county workers and other passers-by smothered her with affection.

Read entire story at SF Gate.

21 Years Later

Dear Gabriel,

21 years later, the Nobel Peace Prize is finally where it belongs — in the hands of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Burmese human rights defender made history this weekend when she officially accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. When Suu Kyi was originally awarded the Prize in 1991, she was under house arrest and couldn’t accept it in person. She wasn’t freed until November 2010 — after years of international pressure and thousands upon thousands of letters from Amnesty activists like you demanding her release.

We shone a light for Aung San Suu Kyi. Now we need to shine a light of freedom for every last prisoner of conscience in Myanmar. Hundreds of political prisoners remain behind bars there, simply for calling for freedom and democracy.

Myanmar must unlock the doors and free all prisoners of conscience now!

Watching Aung San Suu Kyi travel freely around the world with passport and now Nobel Peace Prize in hand fills us with joy and hope. But we cannot rest until all prisoners of conscience have been freed. And this is what Aung San Suu Kyi herself urged us to do in her Nobel acceptance speech on Saturday:

“… I was once a prisoner of conscience. As you look at me and listen to me, please remember the often-repeated truth that ‘one prisoner of conscience is one too many.'” — Aung San Suu Kyi

Today in Dublin, Ireland, Amnesty International will celebrate the remarkable life’s work of Aung San Suu Kyi by awarding her the prestigious “Ambassador of Conscience Award.” There is no better day to honor Suu Kyi and echo the powerful message that she and Amnesty International have long supported — that human rights matter.

When you take action now, Myanmar’s government will hear our message loud and clear — where there is freedom for one, there must be freedom for all!

In solidarity,

Michael O’Reilly
Senior Director, Individuals at Risk Campaign
Amnesty International USA

Hope In Burma

Personal Note: Our local AIUSA Group in Santa Cruz (the fifth to be started in the U.S.) has been working for the release of two specific individuals in Burma for years. It has now been confirmed that one of them and possibly the other, have been released as part of this recent government amnesty. – Gabriel

From Nation of Change and Inter Press Service
by Jim Lobe
14 January 2012

Burma Release, Ceasefire Hailed by Obama, Rights Groups

he administration of U.S. President Barack Obama Friday hailed the release by the Burmese government of hundreds of political prisoners, suggesting that it went far toward satisfying Washington’s conditions for fully normalizing ties between the two countries.

In a statement released by the White House after the first releases were confirmed, Obama called it a “crucial step in Burma’s democratic transformation and national reconciliation process”.

“I have directed Secretary (of State Hillary) Clinton and my Administration to take additional steps to build confidence with the government and people of Burma so that we seize this historic and hopeful opportunity.”

For her part, Clinton, who met last December with President Thein Sein and the country’s most famous dissident, Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, during the first trip by a U.S. secretary of state to Burma in nearly 60 years, called the releases “a substantial and serious step forward in the government’s stated commitment to political reform”.

She added that the administration will soon send an ambassador to Burma, among other measures, to “strengthen and deepen our ties with both the people and the government”.

She also praised a ceasefire agreement reached Thursday between the government and the six-year-old Karen National Union (KNU) insurgency as an “important step forward”.

At the same time, she stressed, as did Obama in his statement, that full normalization will depend on continuing progress on all fronts, “including taking further steps to address the concerns of ethnic minority groups, making sure that there is a free and fair by- election, and making all the releases from prison unconditional, and making sure that all remaining political detainees are also released.”

International human rights group echoed the administration’s praise but also warned against a rush toward normalization, noting that the 651 political prisoners to be freed by the amnesty announced Friday may still leave as many as 1,000 behind bars.

“Today’s release of some of Myanmar’s political prisoners was the result of concerted, sustained pressure by the international community and bold leadership by the United States,” said Suzanne Nussel, executive director of the U.S. chapter of Amnesty International (AIUSA).

“While we welcome the releases, thousands more remain behind bars. Pressure for progress on the remaining prisoners and other human rights concerns in Myanmar must not abate,” she said.

“The risk is that the restoration of ties between the two countries may be premature and could weaken the pressure to address critical areas of unfinished business in addressing serious human rights abuses in Myanmar.”

“The United States has demonstrated that engagement combined with pressure can deliver important breakthroughs, and must sustain both elements of its approach.”

Similarly, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) hailed the release as a “crucial development in promoting respect for human rights in Burma” but called for all remaining political prisoners to be freed “immediately and unconditionally”.

Read entire article at Nation of Change.

Myanmar/Burma Prisoners

Myanmar must release all prisoners of conscience. (17 October 2011 – AI)

Image (below) : Su Su Nway (third from left) was an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience. She was released along with more than 200 other political prisoners. However at least four of the six people in this picture continue to languish behind bars, solely for exercising their right to freedom of speech and assembly. ©AAPPB

Myanmar released more than 6000 prisoners on 12 October 2011. But only about 200 of those released were political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience—that is, people held solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.

The government of Myanmar needs to release all prisoners of conscience immediately.

There are possibly as many as 1800 political prisoners still languishing behind bars in Myanmar. For decades political activists in Myanmar have been arbitrarily detained, tortured during interrogation, subjected to unfair trials and imprisoned in inhumane conditions in Myanmar’s notorious prisons.

Please TAKE ACTION

Last year, after Myanmar held its first elections in 20 years, the new government promised political reform. One of the key benchmarks for gauging the government’s sincerity about this promise is the release of all prisoners of conscience.

After this initial release of 200 political prisoners, expectations are high in Myanmar, across Asia and in other parts of the world. After years of campaigning our calls are gaining momentum.

Please TAKE ACTION

Let’s redouble our efforts to make the Myanmar government listen. Add your name to this petition calling on the Chairman of the newly-established Myanmar National Human Rights Commission to press the President of Myanmar to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience.

We aim to deliver your signatures to the Myanmar embassy in an ASEAN country on 13 November 2011, the first anniversary of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest.

Copies of this petition will also be sent to the Minister of Home Affairs, the Speaker of the Lower House, and the Chair of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).

Please TAKE ACTION

Norway’s “Cushy” Prison

Here is a very interesting article our son posted on Facebook today. I read it after returning from my weekly volunteering at a state penitentiary in Salinas, CA. A lot of it makes very good sense. Essentially, healthy respected people treat other people with respect and hurt people hurt people.

MailOnline
Norway’s controversial ‘cushy prison’ experiment – could it catch on in the UK? by Piers Hernu. 8th May 2011.

Can a prison possibly justify treating its inmates with saunas, sunbeds and deckchairs if that prison has the lowest reoffending rate in Europe? Live reports from Norway on the penal system that runs contrary to all our instincts – but achieves everything we could wish for

On a clear, bright morning in the tranquil, coastal town of Horten, just south of Oslo, a small ferry slides punctually into harbour. I am to take a short boat ride to the sunlit, green island of Bastoy shimmering on the horizon less than two miles away. It is a curious place. There are no secluded holiday homes or elegant hotels with moorings for passing yachts. The 120 people who live there never visit the mainland, but then why would they?

They spend their days happily winding around the network of paths that snake through the pine forests, or swimming and fishing along the five miles of pebble beaches, or playing on the tennis courts and football pitch; and recuperating later on sunbeds and in a sauna, a cinema room, a band rehearsal room and expansive library.

Their commune has handsomely furnished bungalows with cable TV. The residents eat together in an attractively spacious canteen thoughtfully decorated with Norwegian art. The centrepiece is a striking 10ft long model of a Norwegian merchant ship.

If it sounds like an oddball Scandinavian social experiment, you’d be right. Bastoy is home to Norway’s only island prison. I am here to scrutinize its hugely controversial approach to crime and punishment, and to do so with some knowledge; the last time I set foot in a prison was as a foolish 23-year-old man.

COMPLETE ARTICLE

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